A Simplified Approach to Reciprocal Teaching

If you have tried to implement reciprocal teaching in the past and vowed to never try it again, this is for you!  I streamlined the entire process from beginning to end, and I have even included a template for students to complete while working in groups, making everything that much easier.  The reciprocal teaching method is listed below from start to finish.  I begin with a brief description of the strategy. Then I jump right into explaining an efficient process for implementing reciprocal teaching in your classroom.

What is Reciprocal Teaching?

Reciprocal teaching is a collaborative strategy for improving reading comprehension.  It encourages students to think critically about a text using four different reading comprehension strategies.  Ideally, students will learn valuable tools that they can then begin to apply when reading independently.  Reciprocal teaching also gives students a chance to work cooperatively, providing them with an opportunity to strengthen their communication skills.

Step One

Identify the text or section of text you want students to analyze, and read it together as a class.  When you are finished reading, let students know that they will be put into groups of four, and each group member will be responsible for a specific task.  This is a great time to pass out the reciprocal teaching guided worksheet- you can download it for free below. Next, explain each reciprocal teaching role by walking students through the guided worksheet.  Part one of the worksheet will be completed independently, and part two will be completed collaboratively. The questioner is responsible for formulating two questions based on the text.  The clarifier must find two unknown words or ideas in the text.  The summarizer draws a picture that represents the main idea of the text.  Finally, the predictor is responsible for predicting what might happen if the text were to continue.

Step Two

Break students into groups of four, and assign roles to each group member.  Each group member should have a copy of the text and the reciprocal teaching guided worksheet.  At this point, the students should have their name, date, and role filled in on the top of the guided worksheet.  Remind students to only complete part one of the worksheet, and that it is to be completed independently (no talking).  Setting a timer for ten to fifteen minutes works well for this portion of the activity.

Step Three

It is now time to move on to the collaborative portion of the lesson, which should take about thirty minutes depending on the abilities of your students.  Resetting the timer will help to keep students focused and on task.  Groups will start with the questioner box.  The questioner will read the two questions he/she came up with for part one.  The rest of the group will record the questions.  Next, the group will work together to answer the questions.  Answers to the questions should be written in part two of the questioner box.  After completing the questioner box, groups move on to the clarifier portion.  The clarifier states the two unknown words or ideas he/she came up with to complete part one.  The rest of the group records those words/ideas on their own paper.  The group then works together to define or explain the unknown words/ideas, recording the answers in part two of the clarifier box.  A dictionary may be provided to groups that have a hard time defining words using context.  Third, the summarizer shows the group the picture he/she drew to represent the main idea of the text.  The rest of the group will draw a similar picture on their paper.  Working together, the group will then complete part two of the summarizer portion by writing a two or three sentence summary on the lines provided.  Last, the predictor reveals his or her predication if the text were to continue.  The groups members record the prediction on their own papers. Then the group works together to find clues or evidence in the text that support the prediction.  Groups are finished when the entire guided worksheet is completed.

Done! Hopefully, this streamlined process for implementing reciprocal teaching is something you will continue to utilize for different texts throughout the year.


Reciprocal Teaching Free Printable Worksheet
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Reciprocal Teaching Guided Student Worksheet

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